Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 7, 2017

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don’t worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. Metric of the Month: The Cost of General Accounting
In some organizations, general accounting processes run like well-greased machines, and when adjustments to the process model are needed, the changes are not unwieldy. In others, it seems there's always the need to call in a mechanic to keep the gears moving smoothly. Constantly "fixing" things can get expensive. Toss in business model changes and sizable product line extensions and workflows can get all gummed up, sending costs soaring.

2. How Chief Data Officers Can Get Their Companies to Collect Clean Data
In analytics, nothing matters more than data quality. The practical way to control data quality is to do it at the point where the data is created. Cleaning up data downstream is expensive and not scalable, because data is a byproduct of business processes and operations like marketing, sales, plant operations, and so on. But controlling data quality at the point of creation requires a change in the behaviors of those creating the data and the IT tools they use.

3. The bottom line benefits of sustainability
Sustainability initiatives can lead to cost savings for organisations, but employees sometimes fail to see the business imperative because they are given few incentives to act sustainably or are not held accountable for sustainability goals. A new survey by global consulting firm Bain & Company sheds light on the issue: Only 2% of corporate sustainability programmes achieve or exceed their goals, compared with 12% of other corporate transformation initiatives.

4. From disrupted to disruptor: Reinventing your business by transform...
When Madonna burst onto the scene in the early 1980s, there was little reason to suspect that she'd have more than her allotted 15 minutes of fame. But in the three decades since her debut album, she has managed to remain a media icon. Her secret? "Madonna is the perfect example of reinvention," Janice Dickinson, renowned talent agent, has said. Fittingly, the name of Madonna's sixth concert tour was "Reinvention."

5. 5 tips to ease CFOs' worst worries
Worries about people they work with cause CFOs more sleepless hours than cybersecurity threats or customer complaints - regardless of whether they're lying awake in Paris, New York, Dubai, Shanghai, or São Paulo. Economic and political conditions, demographics, and culture shape the challenges CFOs encounter with team members, according to executive recruiters in France, the US, the UK, and China. They explained the common nature of CFOs' workplace worries with similar approaches to managing worldwide, especially at multinational companies.

6. 6 lessons entrepreneurs can teach us
Systems, processes, and protocols help organisations standardise operations. Standardisation promotes efficiency and compliance and helps manage enterprise risk, but it can also introduce rigidity, limit information flow, and discourage creativity. To flourish in a business environment that is global, digital, and fast-paced, combining innovation and risk management is high on the executive agenda. Entrepreneurs take on greater than normal financial risk to organise and operate a business, and successful entrepreneurs embody the ability to turn risks into long-term growth and sustained profitability.

7. Why is cash-flow forecasting still so frustrating for treasury depa...
By now, one would think finance departments would have made some improvements to the all-important task of cash-flow forecasting. But this year's Global Corporate Treasury Benchmarking survey by PwC suggests otherwise. While a vital function of the treasury department, cash-flow forecasting is still a challenge, the survey suggests, with more than half of 220 finance executives surveyed concerned about the accuracy of their forecasts, collecting forecast inputs on time, and the reliability of the systems and processes used to gather the data.

8. Is Corporate Short-Termism Really a Problem? The Jury's Still Out
McKinsey has a new study out on an important topic — the question of whether corporations systematically take too short a view and do not invest enough for the long term. If they do, as many CEOs believe, this is a serious indictment of current corporate governance arrangements and has important policy implications. To take one close to my heart, if short-termism causes underinvestment, it will be a cause of secular stagnation.

9. Nonfinancial risk today: Getting risk and the business aligned
Ask senior managers at any company if they have nonfinancial risk under control, and the answer is likely to be yes. But as managers of companies in automotive, banking, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and many other sectors can attest, the reality is often very different. And as personal liability for corporate actions takes hold, board members—both executive and nonexecutive—are on the hook not just for their personal involvement in risk- and compliance-related issues but also more broadly for the company's whole risk profile and enterprise-wide compliance.

10. Quiet Doesn't Cut It: Why Your Brain Might Work Better In Silence
Shhh. Hear that? No? That's surprising. Odds are, you can hear something right now: A siren, the hum of a fan, the blur of background conversations, the ticking of a watch. It's seldom that our worlds are fully silent—so seldom, that complete silence feels shocking. We welcome sound into our lives unthinkingly, sometimes to our detriment. And according to the latest research, silence is perhaps one of our most underappreciated productivity tool.